Oneupweb Reviews: Google Ocean

Today’s Oneupweb Review is Google Ocean.

OK, so it’s really Google Earth 5.0, but the ocean enhancements are certainly the standout of this update in my opinion.

Other enhancements include Google Mars 3D, the introduction of the concept of time with the use of historic images and guided tours. I guess the argument could be made that these additions are just as large as the ocean updates and could probably support a post of their own, but as I said, we’re focused on the ocean today.

What exactly has Google Earth added that pertains to the ocean? Well I’m glad I asked.

The first thing that I wanted to do with “Google Ocean” after loading the update was to cruise along the ocean floor exploring coral reefs and checking out shipwrecks. While you can do this to some extent – Google has added bathymetric maps which show the underwater topography including the depth and contour of the ocean floor – it’s not quite what I was hoping for in terms of the user experience.

However there are some very cool features when you go underwater. For instance there are data points that allow you to pull up images of ocean life from the area you are exploring, videos of shipwrecks, information about actual expeditions and much more.

There are also many educational features which are part of the new ocean updates. These include information from marine experts including National Geographic and the BBC as well as some very sobering data related to climate change and endangered species.

Not only have these oceanic additions tripled the size of Google Earth, it has also opened the door for all sorts of possibilities. Like getting your water based businesses listed in front of people exploring the virtual high seas.

Since Google Earth pulls business listings from Google Maps, now’s the time to ensure that your boat tour, scuba guide and charter fishing companies are listed and up to date. Especially since Google offers quick links to different ocean sports including surf spots, dive spots and kite surfing spots for starters.

While in general I’ve been a big fan of Google Earth since its first release and am very excited by the recent updates, I also have some gripes to voice in this review.

For one, there are many areas in the ocean, and Google Earth in general, that contain so many data points that it is difficult to select the one you want with the clumsy hand shaped cursor – this has kind of bothered my since the begining and I’m dissapointed to see we’re in version 5 and this still hasn’t been updated.

Also, the controls don’t always make it that easy to navigate to where you want to go – sometimes it’s difficult to even plunge beneath the surface in many ares. It is easier if you just use your mouse though.

I’d also like to see these underwater features extended to the Great Lakes – you listening Google?

All in all though, good show. I give Google Earth 5.0, and mainly the ocean portions, an A-. After all, I have to leave a little room for improvement as I’m certain there’s still more to see from Google Earth. They never cease to amaze me in terms of what they do with this program.